Ballard's strike leads LouCity past Charlotte
Richard Ballard provided Louisville City FC a proper homecoming Wednesday night, delivering a 57th-minute goal that propelled the boys in purple past the Charlotte Independence at Slugger Field.
In LouCity's first home game since April 29, the Louisville native Ballard sprinted into the box, found a ball deflected off teammate Cameron Lancaster and rocketed it into the back of the net for a 1-0 win.
"It felt like everything I've worked for paid off," said Ballard, who attended DuPont Manual High School and Indiana University. "It's just that much sweeter to do it in front of my hometown and celebrate with my city."
The goal was Ballard's first in USL play and his third as a professional. He scored during LouCity's preseason and again in U.S. Open Cup play.
It topped off a good showing for LouCity, which maintained control through with Charlotte playing down a man most of the second half. There were some anxious moments just before the final whistle. Goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh proved a wall, however, totaling 3 saves and 4 punch-outs in his third start back from injury.
"I think the only disappointment if there was any was the last 10, 12 minutes," said coach James O'Connor. "I think our game understanding needs to be a little better, and we just touched on that there. But again, the players deserve enormous credit. At times our play was really, really good with some lovely interplay, which was great to see."
Ballard made the start in a Man of the Match performance as LouCity looked for speed on the wings. Niall McCabe and Brian Ownby joined him in the attacking midfield, with McCabe crossing in the initial ball that led to the goal.
It followed recent Charlotte acquisition Ashani Fairclough's second yellow card issued in the 48th minute. Both the defender's bookings came after contact with Ownby, who could have doubled the lead on an excellent look minutes later. A shot on the face of goal sailed over the bar.
LouCity followed a rallying, 4-4 draw Saturday against the first-place Charleston Battery with a performance dominating on the stat sheet. The club possessed the ball for 59.8 percent of the game and out-shot Charlotte by an 18-10 margin, with nine chances in both halves.
Thanks to Ballard's goal, LouCity avoided another scoreless draw at home. Of three games played previously this year at Slugger Field, two ended with that result.
"Delighted for Richard," O'Connor said. "He's someone we got great belief in, and he's taken on board some of the things we've spoken about. He's got tremendous pace -- tremendous, tremendous pace. Really pleased for him because he's worked really hard.
"He's a great kid. So again, for him to score at home and sure his family is here, it's really great for him."
LouCity, which played its third game in a week on Wednesday, has another coming up this weekend when the club travels to play defending USL champion New York Red Bulls II. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. Sunday.
Match: Louisville City FC vs. Charlotte Independence
Date: June 4, 2017
Venue: Louisville Slugger Field
Kickoff: 7:35 p.m.
Weather: 67 degrees, cloudy
Man of the Match: Richard Ballard
Charlotte Independence (0,0,0)
Louisville City FC (0,1,1)
Louisville City FC: 57' Richard Ballard blasts a rocket right pass the goalkeeper from the top of the box, assist to Cameron Lancaster.
Louisville City FC: 1- Greg Ranjitsingh 24- Kyle Smith, 19- Oscar Jimenez, 4- Sean Totsch, 6- Tarek Morad, 80- Devon "Speedy" Williams (80' 8- Guy Abend), 23- Richard Ballard (80' 22- George Davis IV), 36- Paolo DelPiccolo, 10- Brian Ownby ('69 14- Ilija Ilic), 11- Niall McCabe, 9- Cameron Lancaster
Subs not used: 28- Tim Dobrowolski, 13- Micah Blesoe, 18- Paco Craig, 15- Sean Reynolds
Head coach: James O'Connor
Charlotte Independence: 1- Cody Mizell, 26- Dennis Castillo, 33- Donald Smith, 24 Ashani Fairclough, 15- Luke Waechter, 22- Joel Johnson, 5- Callum Ross (65' 23- Alex Martinez), 7- Yann Ekra, 17- David Spies (77' 19- Enzo Martinez), 9- Casey Townsend (65' 32- Jaime Siaj)
Subs not used: 12- Kainoa Likewise, 13- Austin Yearwood, 6- Jose Marques Davidson, Jorge Herrera,
Head coach: Mike Jefferies
Louisville City FC:
11' Paolo DelPiccolo – Yellow card
74' Kyle Smith – Yellow card
86' Oscar Jiminez – Yellow card
93' Greg Ranjitsignh – Yellow Card
10' Callum Ross – Yellow card
20' Ashani Fairclough – Yellow card
42' Yann Ekra – Yellow card
48' Ashani Fairclough – Yellow/Red card
90' Jaime Siaj
Referee: Rosendo Mendoza
Assistant Referee 1: Brooke Mayo
Assistant Referee 2: Jeffery Swartzel
4th Official: Justin Guilkey